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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UIC: Chicago’s Short-lived ‘Soda Tax’ Worked, Says New Study

A study of beverage sales in Cook County, Illinois, shows that for four months in 2017 — when the county implemented a penny-per-ounce tax on both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks — purchases of the taxed beverages decreased by 21 percent, even after an adjustment for cross-border shopping.

The findings of the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health, are published last week in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“This study comprehensively assessed the impact, both intended and unintended, of Cook County’s 2017 sweetened beverage tax, and it showed that the tax was an effective method for reducing consumption of many beverages known to contribute to chronic health conditions, like Type II diabetes and obesity,” said UIC’s Dr. Lisa Powell, lead author of the study. “It also showed that the potential impact of the county’s tax on public health was dampened by cross-border shopping, an important potential unintended consequence of any local-level tax policy.”

Sometimes referred to as a “soda tax,” the tax was positioned by county officials as a policy instrument to both raise revenue for the county and improve population health by reducing sweetened beverage consumption.

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